By far, the biggest question I get from people who suddenly find themselves spending a lot of time using Zoom for video meetings, is "How can I look my best?" Even though you're working from home, you still want to treat every meeting as you would if you were participating in person. That means take a shower, get dressed appropriately, and plan out your setting to make sure you have what you need.
Of course, there are other tips that can help as well. Here are five things you can do to look your best on your next Zoom meeting:
There probably is no more important aspect to looking good on camera than lighting. One of the biggest mistakes people make is sitting in front of a bright window, which has the effect of causing the camera to underexpose and create a dark silhouette. If you need a little help with your lighting, there are plenty of tools designed just for video meetings, like the Lume Cube Air VC Lighting Kit, which attaches to your display or laptop and gives plenty of light to help you look your best.
Of course, bright light behind you isn't the only background issue you should pay attention to. If you have video meetings on a regular basis (like I do), it's worth having a dedicated space, so you can be intentional about what people see behind you. Of course, not everyone has that luxury. The good news is that if you use a tool like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, you can set a custom background that hides everything behind you.
Let's be honest, up the nose is not the best angle for anyone. Instead, your best bet is to have the camera at a height that it can be angled just slightly down at you. Think about the camera as being right at your hairline, and have it pointed down at your eyes. Nothing too extreme, but enough to give you the most flattering angle of view.
While we're talking about positioning, you also don't want to be too close to the camera, or you end up with a distorted face. You may also want to make sure that your camera isn't set to a wide angle, since that has the same effect.
Speaking of camera, the one built into your laptop (especially if it happens to be a MacBook) is pretty much junk. That 720p camera was top-of-the-line back in like, 2010. Now, it's pretty sad really. Do yourself a favor and get something higher quality, especially if you spend a lot of time on camera. I'm a fan of the Logitech 4K Pro Webcam, which sits right atop my external display and can be adjusted.
While it's not technically about how you look, how you sound is almost as important. A microphone or good pair of headphones can make a big difference, especially when it comes to reducing background noise. I like the Apple AirPods Pro, but honestly, even a simple pair of wired ear buds will give you better sound than the built-in microphone in your laptop.
Bonus: Touch up your appearance
This feels like a good time to remind you that Zoom actually has a feature built in, specifically for the purpose of making you look better. In the Zoom desktop app, there's a "touch up my appearance" option that applies some skin smoothing. It's not perfect, but I know plenty of people who like the fact that it covers up blemishes and gives them a little more of a "ready for primetime" look.
By the way, that feature works better with better lighting. I told you it all comes down to lighting.